Ministry with Peace's companion congregation Mwanga, Tanzania.
Education in Tanzania
The education system in Tanzania operates at several levels, primary, secondary, high school, trade school, college, and University.
Though there are a large number of languages spoken throughout Tanzania, all primary education is conducted in Swahili or English (in special private English language schools). Thus children who have spoken a tribal language in the home must learn to speak Swahili and/or English when they begin school.
There are seven years of primary school, each grade level is called a standard. At the end of standard 7 the children take a national exam which determines whether they can continue in school and what school they can attend. Attendance at school through standard 7 is compulsory. There is no tuition for primary school, but the students have some expenses for required uniforms and supplies. A high percentage of the students pass the standard 7 exam, but many cannot afford to go on to secondary school.
Secondary school is taught in English, so success particularly in the first year, depends largely on how well the students know or are able to learn English. There are both government and private secondary schools. The children with the highest scores on the standard 7 exam are able to attend the government secondary schools, which have a lower tuition and other costs. Secondary schools charge tuition, though the government has put a limit of 124 Tanzanian Shillings (about $65) per year on tuition. They also are required to wear uniforms and pay for supplies. The years of study in the secondary schools are called forms. Secondary school consists of 4 years, Forms 1 through 4. The form 2 exams, after two years determine whether the students may continue to form 3. Students in private schools, but not those in government school, who fail the exam may retake form 2 and the exam. The form 4 exams determine whether and how they may continue. They are examined in a number of areas of study and may pass at several different levels. Those who pass at lower levels may continue to study at colleges and trade schools. Those who pass at the highest level may go on to high school to study in the areas of their highest grades.
Colleges and Trade Schools
The colleges and trade schools give certificates and diplomas to those who successfully complete their programs. This normally takes one year for a certificate and two years for a diploma. Students are accepted into certificate and diploma programs based on their grades on the form 4 exam. These programs include training for many professions, including nursing, teaching primary school, agriculture, tourism, auto mechanics, and many others. The chances of securing employment are fairly high for students who earn a certificate or diploma. Primary school teachers are almost certain to find employment.
High school is where the students are prepared to enter a university. It takes two years, forms 5 and 6, to complete high school. The students focus on the areas of their strengths and interests. At the end of the two years they take national exams. Again, they may pass at several levels in a number of subjects. Their grades on these exams determine what universities they may enter, what scholarships they receive, and what areas of study they may pursue. The universities offer degrees, but are still quite oriented toward job training, with a wide use of internships and hands on training programs.
Education - Primary to Post Secondary & Post High School
Classes in primary through high school are not intended to prepare students directly for jobs. They prepare the students directly to continue studying at higher levels, but indirectly give the students skills in mathematics, science, reading, etc. which are helpful in getting a job. Secondary school gives them the knowledge of English that is helpful in getting some jobs.
It is also important for young women to complete primary and even secondary school to keep them from marrying young and having babies when they are too young to do so safely, or having a long period of bearing children so that the number of births is hard on their health.
Post secondary and post high school education is very much directed toward job training, with no attempt at a broad or general education.
Peace and Education in Tanzania
When Peace first became partners with Mwanga Parish, the parish already had a mission to victims of AIDS. They told us that the biggest problem they faced was orphans whose families could not afford to send them to school, but the parish did not have the financial resources to help them. We planned together that we would keep as many primary school orphans in school as we could. The first year we raised enough money to sponsor 168 primary school students. But in 2003 the government cancelled tuition for primary school. When our money arrived in Tanzania that year it paid for uniforms for all 300 of the primary school students, paid the overdue tuition from the previous year of about 40 primary school students so they could return to school, and paid tuition for about 30 secondary school students. The number os students who need uniforms has gone down each year so that we only had 54 primary school students who needed uniforms this year. Each year we found more orphans who needed help to pay for secondary school and more orphans found us. By 2007 we were supporting 134 orphans in secondary school.
When a teacher we knew who taught agriculture in a secondary school lost her job because agriculture was cut from the curriculum we realized that students in secondary schools were being prepared to take exams but were not gaining any job skills except the general knowledge that could help them generally in life. The education system depended on the trade schools and colleges to teach job skills. As a result we (Peace and Mwanga Parish) decided that we needed to start supporting students in those schools, also. By 2009 we had 9 students in Teacher training colleges and 10 in trade schools.
In 2009 we had two students who had completed Form VI and were accepted into universities, so we decided to again expand our coverage and pay for their studies. We have had ten students graduate from universities, and four more will graduate this year. In 2018 we will have 19 students attending university with only three of them graduating in 2019.
The 600 club at Peace offers the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of real people on a continuing basis. Members of the 600 club are committed to making a difference in the lives of Aids orphans in Tanzania, Africa. All funds given through the 600 club go directly to keep Aids orphans in school when they have no family that can help them. The funds that are given provide uniforms, shoes, school supplies, pay tuition and school fees, and room and board for the orphans. The funds are distributed by a committee consisting of a local doctor, nurse, and residents working closely with over 8 pastors and 70 heads of schools in the Mwanga District of Tanzania to identify the orphans, their needs, and to make sure that the schools get the money that is provided. All are volunteers, so none of the gifts go for overhead.
Keeping the students in school benefits the students and the community. It gives the students the opportunity to learn the two languages necessary to operated in Tanzanian economy, English and Swahili. It delays the marriage age for girls so that they have fewer children and are less likely to die in childbirth,and keeps them out of prostitution. It allows them to acquire the job skills necessary to be self supporting and able to help their siblings. The students we help are going out as teachers, mechanics, carpenters, computer operators, and many other trades.
To be a member of the 600 Club you pledge to give $50 per month for a year ($600) to support these Aids Orphans. You will get periodic reports on the orphans and there will be a dinner at the end of the year with other 600 Club members to view slides on the orphans and to celebrate their success that has come from your gifts.
The 600 Club is a joint service of Peace Lutheran Church, Pella Iowa and Mwanga, Tanzania.
The Mforo Well
In 2005 Peace and Mwanga Parish had a well drilled near the village of Mforo where there is a sub-congregation of Mwanga Parish. At that time the Mwanga Parish anticipated that there would be a facility near Mforo to care for AIDS orphans. There are three villages within 2 ½ miles of the well, so the villagers were happy to have water that close to their homes. Until that time they had been going nine miles to get water and to take their cattle to drink. They promised to set up an account to which everyone who got water from the well would contribute a small amount each time they got water. This promise was quickly forgotten and when the well needed maintenance there were no funds in the account. It took several years for the people to decide they needed to renew the promise. They wanted to put in pipe to the three villages so that water would be available near their homes. Peace and Sheffield agreed to help with the cost of the pipe if they would get the well in good shape. Meantime the government drilled a well near the village of Kisingiro. With the well now in good shape, the villagers dug the trenches and water pipes were installed to six distribution points in the village of Mforo in the fall of 2016. Funds collected from Redeemer Lutheran in Indianola, Zion St. John Lutheran in Sheffield, and Pella Lion’s Club, were used to purchase the pipe, cement, and fittings. The district water engineer will draw up the plans for pipes to carry water to the other two villages, Kisingiro and Kichwa N’gombe, from the new well.
We have a project for AIDS widows to help them earn money to support their families. We hired a teacher and bought four sewing machines and some material. We also paid for lunch for all of them, since they spent all day in class. We had six widows complete the course and four have stuck with it. Two of the ones that stayed with it have AIDS. We hire them each year to make uniforms for the orphans in primary school, so they have this as a guaranteed income each year. In addition, they make things for people who come to them and they make clothing items that they take to the market and sell. Three of the widows have purchased their own machines from their earnings.
We have another project that is for any widow in the parish. They don’t have to be AIDS widows, and many are not. We hired a teacher to teach them to make soap and bought supplies for the first batch of soap. They meet twice each week and make soap together and sell it in the market. They make two kinds of liquid soap, one for clothes and one for scrubbing bathrooms. They are able to sell all of the soap they can make. If they ever get to the point they cannot sell all of the soap, they will learn how to make another kind or two. Part of their income is divided among those who work and part of it is put into an account from which they purchase supplies. These widows, for the most part, are older and do not support themselves with their soap money. Rather, they supplement their incomes. They told me it is their “tea” money. I told them if they would work four days a week they could have sugar in their tea.